Parashat Emor (Say) Leviticus 21:1-24:23
Haftarah: Ezekiel 44:15-31
In this week’s Torah reading one learns that certain calls of service demand a greater commitment from the individual. This means that in order to serve in some capacities, there are requirements that are not demanded from those who do not serve in this way. Even though all Kohanim (Priests) are forbidden from marrying women who are not chaste or who are divorced (a widow is permissible), the High Priest may only marry a virgin.
“A widow and a divorcee, and a desecrated woman or harlot; these you shall not take, rather a virgin from his people he shall take as a wife.” Leviticus 21:14
Why does HaShem command this restriction? Throughout the Torah the High Priest is a special representative of G-d. Therefore, even though all marriages are suppose to picture the relationship that HaShem has with Israel or Messiah has with the congregation of the redeemed, the High Priest is held to greater accountability than the rest of the Priests and the people in general. Is it wrong, that is inherently sinful, for a man to marry a woman who is not a virgin? No, but for the High Priest, doing so causes him to forfeit his special service and calling, as he would then be replaced by another. Some have asked in regard to this, “Where is G-d’s forgiveness and grace?”
Such a question demonstrates a lack of understanding of both forgiveness and grace. These two generous acts of G-d, when extended to man, do not lessen or remove His standards or His requirements. They are rather extended to man for the purpose of maintaining or establishing a relationship between HaShem and the individual. Much in a similar manner that forgiveness does not remove the need for restitution when possible. In other words, the High Priest who marries a woman who is not a virgin, can still be in fellowship with G-d; but he simply cannot continue as High Priest, because one of the truths that the High Priest’s position conveys to the people would be unable to be fulfilled.
One serves G-d as a privilege; certain callings have requirements which must be maintained and when one believes that G-d’s grace which is mediated through the Messiah Yeshua removes these requirements, this one is thinking more of himself instead of the holiness of G-d. The remaining verses of this chapter provide a list of physical blemishes that also disqualifies a man from serving as a priest. Things such as being blind, lame, having a nose without a bridge, one limb longer than the other, etc. all renders the priest unable to serve. Many upon hearing this think this is unfair; these things are not the fault of the individual priest. This may be true, but one should think about the holiness of G-d and His absolute right to regulate His Temple service according to His standards, rather than apply our selfish understandings of what is fair.
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